Google Changes & SEO Predictions

In last week’s recap, we highlighted a few of our favorite discussions in the world of SEO. This week, we’re back to summarizing our favorite posts… with a slight twist. Since the end of 2012 is rapidly approaching, this week’s recap focuses on posts that review 2012 and make predictions about 2013.

But before we jump into this week’s recap, let’s take a quick look at last week’s Google activity:

MozCast 12-5 Google update

According to this MozCast screenshot, Google made a significant change on Wednesday (12/5). Google hasn’t confirmed anything publicly, but Dr. Pete made the following observations in a Google+ post: (1) the “Average Result Count” declined steadily last week and (2) the “Big 10” metric also dropped last week. For more information, read Dr. Pete’s post (and check MozCast’s metrics).

While we’re on the topic of Google, let’s visually review the Google changes that occurred in 2012…

5 Graphics that Recap the Most Important Google SERP Changes in 2012

This post by Nathan Safran takes a visual stroll down memory lane, highlighting a few of the most important Google-related changes in 2012.

Specifically, Nathan looks at the following 4 changes:

  1. The Menu Bar Migrates North – In November, Google moved the navigational menus from the left frame to the top of the results.
  2. Knowledge Graph – In May, Google released the Knowledge Graph, which allowed Google to answer more informational queries directly in the SERPs.
  3. Enhanced Search Results – This covers various SERP enhancements (e.g., Search Plus Your World, Zagat ratings, AuthorRank, etc.).
  4. Penguin Algorithm Update – On April 24, Google released this major update, which fundamentally changed a significant number of SERPs.

For each of these changes, Nathan provides a graphic that shows a before and after view of a Google search. The following graphic illustrates all 4 of the aforementioned Google changes:

Google SERP 2012 changes

For more information about these 2012 Google changes (and their corresponding graphics), I encourage you to read the full post.

Now that we’ve reviewed the past, let’s predict the future…

The Future of SEO in 2013

In this post, Gaz Copeland brings together 30 SEO experts and reveals their predictions for SEO in 2013.

As you can imagine, the predictions vary considerably from one person to the next, but a few topics are consistently mentioned:

(1) Expect more spam fighting Google updates (furry names optional)

2012 was dominated by link network take-downs, unnatural links notices, and of course: the Penguin update. Many of the SEO experts predict that we’ll see more of the same in 2013.

Google will continue to find ways to distinguish between editorially given links (votes for pages on the Web) and links intended to manipulate rankings.
Bill Slawski

(2) Anchor text will continue to lose value

Every year, the power of anchor text is diminished more and more. In 2012, anchor text lost value and actually became dangerous due to the negative consequences associated with the Penguin update. Moving forward, many experts believe Google will continue to devalue anchor text.

We’ll see Google turn down the dial on the power of anchor text. It has always been a bug bear of mine that they put so much weight on it in the first place because real internet users do not link using exact match anchor text.
Paddy Moogan

(3) Authorship and AuthorRank will become MUCH more important

Google+ is Google’s identity management system for the Internet. As such, Google will continue to promote the system and strongly encourage (and incentivize) webmasters to create profiles and associate their content with those profiles.

Authorship is only going to get more important. Google wants (read:needs) people to complete their Google Plus profiles and start using authorship for reasons that range from making their incredibly broken reviews system work to making sense of entities and the semantic web.
Joel Klettke

(4) Semantic markup will continue to proliferate

Google presents rich snippets in the SERPs for a variety of verticals. In the coming year, more webmasters will take advantage of these rich snippets, and Google will experiment with new ways to leverage (and display) this data.

I think there’ll be a few more Schema based case studies next year and predict that SEO’s will get off their arses and actually get round to implementing it.
Sean Revell

(5) Webmasters will focus more attention on user experience (UX)

If your website provides a negative user experience, you’ll quickly lose visitors (regardless of how valuable your products and services are). Since search engines have a vested interest in keeping their users happy, they won’t promote sites that don’t create a positive user experience.

The big thing for me next year is going to be User Experience (UX) – creating websites that deserve to be on the first page of Google
Chris Dyson

Those are just a few of the most popular predictions. For even more, be sure to check out the entire post!

Web Gnomes Highlights

Since we’re reviewing the past and predicting the future, we’ll finish this week’s recap with a quick run-down of the most popular posts from our blog in 2012:

We have even more exciting posts planned for 2013, and as always, if there’s anything you’d like to see us write about, please let us know!

Now, It’s Your Turn…

I hope you enjoyed this week’s SEO recap, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was the biggest change in 2012? What are your predictions for 2013?


  1. says

    2012 was a huge year in search.. so many changes. If this keeps up, G will be unrecognizable in 2013. The biggest change was penguin for sure – whereas before the only way to rank was exact match anchor text, now sites get penalized for that. Turned link building upside down.

    Good picks for predictions – I especially think UX is the future. It’s just a winning solution all around – visitors have a more pleasant experience, webmasters can direct visitors to their goal pages easily and search engines just need to step up their game and improve UX tracking.

    To add onto your “top free SEO tools” – netpeak checker (dope tool that combines many of those other tools mentioned)


    • says

      I completely agree with you about G becoming unrecognizable. They keep pushing the boundaries (especially when it comes to replacing organic real estate with ads or G-owned properties), and they almost never lose market share in the process (i.e., the public doesn’t punish them).

      Penguin was definitely the story of 2012. I wholeheartedly endorse high-quality content that attracts high-quality links, but Penguin/EMD/etc. have gotten out of hand. I can understand why Google started using negative juice for manipulative links, but I really wish they would simply devalue the links they identify (as opposed to “penalizing” them). SEO is already difficult enough for SMBs without the negative consequences now associated with over-optimization.

      Totally agree about UX. As G and the others identify more and more automated ranking factors for quantifying good/bad UX, we’ll see its importance in the results continue to increase. And as I mentioned in my contribution to Gaz’s post, AuthorRank is going to be a HUGE deal (much bigger than it already is).

      I need to play with Netpeak Checker; it looks pretty useful.

      Thanks for your comment, Oleg!

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